Advice on Hosting and/or Accepting Speaking Engagements

Sep 24, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

psI’m not a long-time veteran of traveling ministry or a guy who sells out conferences, so there are plenty more people more qualified than me to speak to these things, but I’ve noticed that very few do. I’m not sure why. But when I first started receiving invitations to speak at churches and events, I would’ve loved to have a post like this for some guidance. If you’re interested in hosting a conference or otherwise hosting a speaking engagement, or if your ministry platform is allowing you to begin pursuing God’s call into that option, I hope this advice (from the perspective of a frequent speaker, if not a big one) will serve you well in considering how to honor God and your neighbors.


1. Clarity is really important. Make sure you clearly and consistently communicate with your speaker or with his designated point person on itineraries and expectations. If you are new to event hosting, it makes sense that you may not have everything logistically figured out, but here are some key bits of info to get to your guest speaker as soon as you are able:

a. Is someone picking him or her up from the airport? What is their phone number? Is someone hosting them, driving them, escorting them? Ditto.

b. Where is your guest speaker staying? What is the address of this place? If hotel, confirmation number for reservation?

c. Do you expect your guest to be at meals or other meetings during the event? When, where, and what for?

d. Can your guest submit receipts for travel reimbursement? Who do they send them to?

2. Be sensitive to a speaker’s temperament/personality. Your guest may be an extrovert who loves spending all the margin at the event hanging out and talking. Or he may be an introvert who needs to recharge between teaching sessions. Likely, he or she is somewhere in between. This is another place where clarity is important. Ask your guest about their preference — when and how often would they like some privacy? Do they mind spending some time at meals or meeting people in the foyer, etc.? Don’t assume that every guest speaker is like your gregarious, glad-handing pastor or like last year’s painfully shy conference speaker.

3. Try not to throw any curve balls. Sometimes things come up that require rearrangements of schedule or content. That’s understandable. To the best you’re able, however, don’t improvise. Changing things on the fly may frustrate what your speaker has prepared for. Also: If you’ve communicated to your speaker that you’d like a set number of speaking sessions, don’t start adding new obligations at the last minute or — even worse — during the event. “Since we’ve got you here, do you mind…?”

4. Pay promptly. This is the awkward one, I know. Acknowledging that there are people who travel to speak who don’t need the money or who are overpaid or whatever, most folks traveling to speak have included their speaking engagement income in their family budget planning. It may seem like “extra” to you, but it is not often “extra” to them. If you cannot provide their speaking payment until weeks after the event, please let them know. (Again, clarity is important.) Interestingly enough, this is the piece of the speaking engagement organization that most often falls through the cracks — “Oh, I thought so-and-so gave it to you…” — which puts your speaker in a very weird and awkward position, especially if he’s sensitive to the money issue. When I first began accepting speaking invitations, I lost money on a few engagements because I didn’t get paid — and in a couple of cases, was surprised to learn I needed to pay for my own accommodations and travel — and I was too afraid of looking like a money-grubber for asking about it. Looking back, I realize this isn’t money-grubbing. It’s just wanting to be paid for your work, just like you would want if payday at your job came and your employer “forgot” to give you your paycheck. So let’s avoid all the weirdness and just pay our guests what we’ve previously and clearly agreed to pay them.


1. You are not a big deal. Don’t act like one. This is the most important piece of advice. In the last 6 years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a few places where the reputation of the previous year’s speaker still hung around like the b.o. in that “Seinfeld” valet parking episode. I’ve got some stories, let me tell you. Brothers and sisters, if you travel to speak, you may be long gone from each engagement, but your reputation will hang around. Some of you are setting the bar really low for those of us who follow you. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a diva.

2. Honor the event hosts/organizers or church pastor(s). Make note of them in your talks, thanking them for the invite, commending their ministry, or otherwise reflecting on some time you’ve spent with them. It’s a little gesture that can mean a lot.

3. Fraternize as much as possible. I’m one of those weird introverts who enjoys being with people. Also, one of my favorite parts of traveling to speak is meeting brothers and sisters all over the place, learning what God is doing in their lives and in their churches, and hearing about the different missional contexts they minister in. So I try to spend as much time out of the hotel rooms and green rooms as I can. But because I’m an introvert, I often need some recharging after meeting people, especially if meeting them involves a lot of personal storytelling and ministry. And because I’m not a very dispassionate speaker, I often need a little recovery time after I speak. (I’m much more personable before I speak, which I’m beginning to learn is somewhat uncommon.) I say all that to say that I totally understand the speaker’s desire to retreat. It’s not sinful to do that; it’s often the best thing for someone who wants to give their teaching sessions their best. But if you are spending quite a bit of time at an event or church, spend a good amount of it hanging out, not hiding out. Ask questions. Get to know people. It won’t hurt you. And it will often communicate as well as any sermon you give. It will even make your sermons more listenable.

4. Look out for the little guys. Many speakers try to make their speaking ministry more “efficient” by minimizing the number of small events they participate in. I think this often misses the biggest blessings. No, smaller events cannot pay as much. No, smaller events cannot offer you the same level of accommodations or boost your profile or help you sell as many books or whatever. But there are faithful brothers and sisters laboring in obscure places who would be incredibly blessed by your ministry if you could spare them some time. And I think if you go into these smaller venues with heart open, you will see you are often blessed much more than they. Don’t get too big. (See, again, #1.) If you’re just starting out speaking, smaller venues will probably be your only option. But if your platform starts to grow, you will be tempted to leave your roots behind. Don’t do that.

Well, that’s what I’ve got. Your mileage may vary.
If anyone has questions about these or related matters, I will do my best to answer them in the comments.

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The Truth and Shepherding

Sep 03, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

I had the great privilege of preaching at the For The Church Conference held at Midwestern Seminary earlier this week. Here is video of my plenary session on Isaiah 40:9-11, titled “The Truth and Shepherding.” If you are a pastor who is tired, hurting, or fresh out of (or currently in) the thick of a difficult ministry, I especially hope it blesses you.

All conference video can be accessed at the For The Church website here.

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The Marriage Vows Exist for Sin

Aug 27, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

wedding_rings“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
— Ephesians 5:31-32

Among the many riches and depths of Paul’s words on marriage in Ephesians 5 are these two:
1) Marriage is meant to make us holy more than happy (all apologies to Gary Thomas),
2) Happiness and romance are byproducts of a healthy marriage, but the ultimate purpose of marriage is the magnification of Christ.

Therefore, if we want a gospeled marriage, we will take to heart what God is saying here about husbands and wives and one-fleshedness and sacrifice and submission and respect and cherishing. Because God knows what he’s talking about. He designed the thing. And it’s not like he didn’t anticipate all the reasons we’d come up with to explain why these admonitions don’t exactly apply to our situations. Like, we all know we’re married to sinners, but couldn’t have God given us a, you know, less sinny sinner to be married to?

But this is exactly what marriage is for. This is what the marriage vows are for. You don’t really even need that “for better” stuff in there, that “in richness” and “in health” stuff. Nobody in their right mind is bailing during the good times. No, the vows are for the other stuff. The vows are for the “for worse.” “In poverty.” “In sickness.” The vows exist because sin is real. Sure, we may not know what sins will become real in our relationships, putting stress on the covenant, but the vows exist because sin does.

The vow of the gospel exists because sin does.

See, the story of Christ and his bride is very messy. Very difficult. It is a sordid history, to be sure. One of the most vivid illustrations we get is that of the prophet Hosea who was commanded by God to take a prostitute for a wife. And she keeps cheating on him and prostituting herself, Hosea stays faithful through all the pain, the heartache, the dishonor, the confusion. He stays faithful. Why? Because God had joined them together. And because God in his astounding wisdom and artistry was showing Hosea – and us – what it is like for Christ to love his church.

When we stand at the altars making our vows, we really don’t think the bad will be that bad. We expect sin but not that kind. But our holy bridegroom Jesus Christ makes his vow knowing full well what he’s forgiving. He knows us inside and out. He knows what we’re guilty of and what we will be guilty of. He knows just how awful it’s going to get.

Every day, you and I reject the holiness of Jesus in a million different ways, only a fraction of which are we conscious of. If Jesus were keeping a list of our wrongs, none of us would stand a chance. At any second of any day, even on our best days, Jesus could have the legal grounds to say, “Enough of this. I can’t do it any more. You’ve violated my love for the last time. This is unfixable.” The truth is, you’ve never met a wronged spouse like Jesus. You’ve never met a disrespected spouse like Jesus. You’ve never met a spouse who more than carried their weight like Jesus. He’s carrying the entire relationship on his back. This thing is totally one-sided.

And yet: He loves. And he gives. And he serves. And he approves. And he washes. And he delights. And he romances. And he doesn’t just tolerate us; he lavishes his affection on us. He justifies and sanctifies and glorifies.

I don’t know what you come away from Ephesians 5:22-33 thinking. Maybe you read it and think, “Sacrifice? Submit? No way. I can’t do this.”
Husbands are thinking, “I cannot sacrifice for her.”
Wives are thinking, “I cannot submit to him.”
And we can’t — at least, not the way God wants us to.

God knows this. He knows we are terrible obeyers. He knows we are self-interested sacrificers and stubborn submitters. And he gave up his life for us anyway. He died to forgive all our sins and rose again that we might never have them held against us.

Be still our beating hearts. Here’s a groom worth swooning over.

And because his gospel is true, you can never, ever, ever give up.

“I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.”
— Ezekiel 16:62-63

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The All-Surpassing Preciousness of Jesus

Aug 25, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

unnamed-womanWhat is the one thing you cannot live without?

I think there are two stark realities shown in the passage of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head — a deadly devaluing and a saving adoration. See if you don’t agree:

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
— Mark 14:3-9

The logic of those scolding is understandable, clear. What the woman has done is wasteful.

And what Jesus says in reply is provocative. He is not denying the importance of caring for the poor. Indeed, how could he, since he has taught so much on caring for the poor and needy already! But he is suggesting that there is something more important.

There is something more important than helping the poor. What could that be?

It is Jesus himself.

To devalue Jesus as the indignant have done is eternally deadly. To devalue the nard as the woman has done is eternally saving.

A few gospel notes on the text:

1. Crushing is the way to blessing.

“Whomever God uses greatly he must wound deeply,” Oswald Chambers has said. The breaking open of the nard is a beautiful picture of that. It complements Paul’s illustration about we ourselves carrying treasures in jars of clay in 2 Corinthians 4.

Maybe Jesus’ friend Mary, whom John’s Gospel has identified as the woman in this scene, learned this precious lesson from the death and resurrection of her brother Lazarus. The way to the blessing is through brokenness. Perhaps Mary understands that now, perhaps she is showing Jesus in this act of tender care and extravagant worship that she “gets it.”

And God is not above keeping his own rules, for he committed to the crushing of his own son in order to cover his children with grace. Think of the lavishing of grace this is! (Some would call it a waste…)


2. God loves us so much, he will do whatever it takes to help his children be satisfied in Jesus alone.

Our Lord knows we need to be startled to see his beauty. He knows we struggle in our flesh to naturally see Christ as glorious and all-satisfying. We need to be shaken awake. We need the smelling salts of the gospel waved under our noses.

He knows that a life of comfort and ease is spiritually speaking very dangerous for us.

So: What needs to break in your life so you see the preciousness of Jesus? What needs to be taken away from you?

In his fantastic little book on Romans 8, Supernatural Living for Natural People, Ray Ortlund writes:

Paul discovered in Jesus a treasure so rich that he took all his hard-won lifetime achievement awards and junked them in order to have Jesus. And then he looked at that pile of earthly prizes there in the dumpster, threw his head back and laughed: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8, RSV). If you are a Christian, but bored, maybe you need to lose something. You cannot just add Jesus to an already crowded life. So what do you need to off-load, so that your heart can feel the surpassing worth of knowing Christ? And do not stop off-loading until that sense of privilege in Jesus really starts to percolate. When our hearts thrill to his surpassing worth, the world loses its appeal.

Speaking personally, I can say that it wasn’t until I lost everything that I found out I had everything in Christ.


3. Christ is most precious.

The breaking of the expensive gift, its pouring out all over the Teacher, was not a waste because he was more valuable than it. All gifts are wasted if they don’t adorn the Giver.

All precious gifts must adorn the most precious gift of the precious Giver himself or they cease to have value.

Here is Spurgeon, from a sermon on 1 Peter 2:7:

Go and see some of our sick and dying friends; go and talk to them about the Reform Bill, and they will look you in the face and say, “Oh, I am going from this time-state: it is a very small matter to me whether the Reform Bill will be carried or not.” You will not find them much interested in that matter. Well, then, sit down and talk to them about the weather, and how the crops are getting on—“Well, it is a good prospect for wheat this year.” They will say, “Ah, my harvest is ripening in glory.” Introduce the most interesting topic you can, and a believer, who is lying on the verge of eternity, will find nothing precious in it; but sit down by the bedside of this man, and he may be very near gone, almost unconscious, and begin to talk about Jesus—mention that precious soul-reviving, soul-strengthening name Jesus, and you will see his eye glisten, and the blanched cheek will be flushed once more—“Ah,” he will say, “Precious Jesus, that is the name which calms my fears, and bids my sorrows cease.” You will see that you have given the man a strong tonic, and that his whole frame is braced up for the moment. Even when he dies, the thought of Jesus Christ and the prospect of seeing him shall make him living in the midst of death, strong in the midst of weakness, and fearless in the midst of trembling. And this proves, by the experience of God’s people, that with those who believe in him, Christ is and ever must be a precious Christ.

If you have Christ, when you are breaking open in suffering or death, you will find you have a precious Christ!

His preciousness is total and complete:
Romans 10:12 says he has riches to bestow and Psalm 50:10 says the cattle on a thousand hills are his, so you know Jesus is unrivaled in his resources.
Proverbs 3:19 says “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens” so you know Jesus is unparalleled in wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 8:4 says “For the word of the king is supreme,” so certainly King Jesus’ supremacy is undoubtable.
In Isaiah 6, the cherubim cry out, “”Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” so you know Jesus’ glory is boundless.
Ephesians 1:7-8 says “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight,” so you know the grace in Jesus is invaluable, incomparable, gratuitous, and infinitely precious.

Our Christ’s preciousness is more than deserving to be adorned with the drink offering of our very lives. And it is our willingness to adore him in and through our breaking open that shows we believe this.

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Too Big Not To Fail

Aug 24, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

Marten_van_Valckenborch_Tower_of_babel-largeThen they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
— Genesis 11:4

If we look at Babel as the prototype for the pursuit of fame and power, we see a few interesting things by way of diagnosis. First, the pursuit of renown is really a pursuit of significance. Why do I want you to notice me, to tell me how great I am? Not because I fundamentally trust or value your opinion, but because I fundamentally distrust any notion that I’m anything in anywise special. The proof in that is that one ounce of praise from a few isn’t enough; I want more from many. Secondly, the pursuit of renown is the result of fear. “Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” We seek security in attention.

Like the Babelists, we build our towers, not knowing the great dangerous irony — that the stronger we get, the more vulnerable we become. The fall is prefaced by pride. The split second before the great collapse is the proudest we’ve ever been.

The lesson appears plain: if you really want to fall, get big.

Mary sings, “he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” (Luke 1:51). By building our towers, making our name for ourselves, we are stone by stone actually contributing to the very thing we are trying to avoid: getting “scattered,” being “dispersed.”

King Uzziah is a cautionary tale. He was “marvelously helped, til he was strong” (2 Chronicles 26:15). When he was strong, he got proud (v.26). He got big. We think bigness is the way. We think bigness solves lots of problems. We think bigness is safety. We think we can get too big to fail. But it’s the other way around. We see over and over — outside of ourselves, of course — that it’s possible to get too big not to fail.

Which is why the greatest man ever to live (Matthew 11:11), aside from Jesus himself, knew the real secret to success, the real work of significance, the real strength of safety:

He must increase, but I must decrease.
— John 3:30

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The Felicity of Christ

Aug 19, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

Pride-and-Prejudice-Jane-AustenJohn Flavel writes:

Christ [is] the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the congregation or meeting-place of all the waters in the world: so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet… . His excellencies are pure and unmixed; he is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall.

The two eldest Bennet sisters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are best friends, but their personalities are like night and day. Elizabeth is cynical, contemplative. Jane is ever-optimistic, perhaps even naive. She can think of nothing bad to say about anyone. If anyone ever wrongs her, she instinctively forgives (if she can even see the wrong to begin with). In one scene, Jane and Elizabeth are celebrating Jane’s engagement to be married. This exchange grabs me:

“I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!” cried Jane. “Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!”

[Elizabeth replied:] “If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness.”

There is Spiritual truth here! Had we forty shiny idols to buoy our affections, still these affections could not be mustered to enduring happiness. Had we forty ways into religious devotion to God, if none of those forty were Christlikeness through gospel power, we “never could be so happy.”

“Have this mind among yourselves,” Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5, speaking of Christ’s attitude. Weymouth renders the verse, “Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”

There is good news. Romans 8:29 tells us that Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We will have his disposition.

The felicity of Christ is conferred to his bride. Through the power of his Spirit, we receive the mind of Christ and the Spirit’s fruit, which may be another way to say Christ’s disposition. Even the persecuted church has cause for great joy, for unbounded happiness of soul. Because they know Christ in his suffering, they know Christ in the joy set before him. They know Christ in his gospel, which is the antidote for universal despair.

Until we have his disposition, his goodness, we can never have his happiness.

Adapted from Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus (91-92)

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The Divisive Person Is The One Who Departs From The Truth

Aug 18, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

parting_of_the_ways_by_kapanaga-d4fssmvDo two walk together,
unless they have agreed to meet?

— Amos 3:3

Christians who affirm the normative, traditional, historical, orthodox view of the Bible’s teaching on various sins are always accused of being divisive when in sticking to their affirmations they must disassociate with those who don’t.

It’s a disingenuous claim, however, since unity could have been preserved so long as the agreement did. But when one changes a mind on such matters the division has begun with them (1 Corinthians 1:10), not the one who says, “Ah, you’ve changed the rules; you’ve changed the agreement.” It would be like the adulterer crying out after his wife as she’s walking out the door in anger and shame that she’s being divisive.

The person who objects is often told they are “singling out” this particular sin as over-important, as more important than unity! But it is not those who protest who are singling out particular sins. It is those bringing the revision, the ones asking, “Did God really say…?”, the ones who suggest it should now be normal what we previously agreed was objectionable who are singling it out, elevating it above the agreement. They are the ones making it the sticking point.

We think of the historical development of credal truth. Many of the historic creeds that so many professing Christians affirm as litmus tests for doctrinal orthodoxy began as responses to introduced heresies. As unbiblical ideas took seed in church communities, those who affirmed orthodoxy thought it best to formulate and codify what had been previously assumed. But it wasn’t the drafters of the creeds who were being divisive. It was the heterodox.

And it isn’t those who believe the Bible when it says sin is sin that are being divisive; it is those who are introducing the idea that some sins aren’t. If you push a decision on something that innovates on the Bible’s testimony, you’re creating the division. Division begins with that first departure. The first step away from the agreement is the original divide. It is simply necessary, then, for Christians to walk away from a divisive person (Titus 3:10). Perhaps they may even say, “Farewell.”

They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
— Jude 18-19

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For The Church Conference Coming Soon

Aug 13, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

We are just a couple of weeks away from the 2nd annual For The Church Conference held at Midwestern Seminary.

The conference will be held Aug. 31 – Sep. 1 and will include preaching from David Platt, Russell Moore, Darrin Patrick, H.B. Charles, Jason Allen, and myself. Time is running out and space is filling up, so if you’re interested in this affordable time of equipping and encouragement in the gospel held right in America’s heartland, register soon!

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Crooked Speech and Straight Shooting

Aug 06, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

38-GossipPut away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
—Proverbs 4:24

What constitutes crooked speech? It is talk that isn’t straight, of course. It is bowed, off-kilter, circuitous, meandering. There are a few examples we could cite.

1. Falsehoods
Telling lies about ourselves or others is breaking covenant. Even if we’re just “stretching” the truth or “bending” the truth, entertaining distortions or investing in stereotypes, we cut a line unfit to build relationships or reputations of integrity with. You can’t be square with God and neighbor if all your lumber’s warped.

2. Gossip
Talking about someone rather than to them is slantways. We all know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but gossips take the easy “shortcut” of the long way around. They might never get to you but they’ll certainly get after you. That’s crooked.

3. Hypocrisy
This is some of the crookedest speech. Somebody who misrepresents themselves, posturing success from a place of personal bankruptcy or feigning sincerity and sensitivity one moment while savaging others the next. Hypocrites preach “peace, peace” not only when there is no peace, but while they’re waging wars. They will preach love and respect while they secretly and sometimes openly behave oppositely. The Bible calls these folks “double minded.” They’re fork-tongued too.

There are certainly more kinds of crooked speech, but these are the most common. Proverbs 4:24 reminds us that the Lord loves a straight shooter.

… but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.—James 5:12

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The Gospel is No Piddlin’ Thing

Aug 05, 2015 | Jared C. Wilson

LUCYAnd he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.” — Mark 4:24

Here is a parallel of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:33 on seeking first the kingdom. The prosperity gospelists pervert these promises, turning them into the lamest of proverbs, into legalistic voodoo, as if God can be manipulated like the gods of the pagans and as if his kingdom is some kind of vending machine you just need the passwords for. The prosperity gospelists misread the “more added to you” like the kid happy you’ve brought more dirt for his mud pies.

No, the more we get is more of Christ and his multitudinous riches. Our God is no miser. He graciously gives us the best gifts, the ones that last. God is not stingy! Through Christ come a universe of blessings that our hearts might be filled to overflowing!

A sampling of where this thinking comes from:

2 Peter 1:4 – “he has granted to us his precious and very great promises [plural]”
John 1:16 – “from his fullness we receive grace upon grace”
Isaiah 55:7 – we have been “abundantly” pardoned
2 Corinthians 3:18 – we are transformed from one degree of glory to another
John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life abundant” [emphasis added]
Ephesians 1:7-8 – he has lavished the riches of his grace upon us

Here is what William Hendriksen writes in his commentary on Mark 4:21-25:

God’s gifts are always most generous. He is forever adding gift to gift, favor to favor, blessing to blessing. He gives not only “of” his riches – as a billionaire might do when he gives a dollar to charity – but “according to” the riches of his grace. He imparts grace upon grace. He not only pardons but pardons abundantly. He delights in lovingkindness (Mic. 7:18)… Truly he giveth and giveth and giveth again.

“More besides shall be given to you.” When Abraham’s servant asks Rebekah for a drink, she not only quenches his thirst but in addition also that of the camels. This is only a faint reflection of what God in Christ is doing constantly:

He not only grants Solomon’s wish for wisdom, but in addition promises him riches and lengths of days.
He not only accedes to the centurion’s request to heal the latter’s servant, but in addition pronounces a blessing upon the centurion.
He not only answers the plea of Jairus, restoring to life his daughter, but in addition sees to it that the child gets something to eat.
He the resurrected Christ not only fulfills his promise to meet the disciples in Galilee but in addition meets and blesses them even earlier in Jerusalem.
He not only pardons the sinner—as a governor might grant pardon – but in addition adopts him and grants him peace, holiness, joy, assurance, freedom of access, super-invincibility.

I can’t help but picture the scene of the lost son returning, demoralized and broken. Is his father standing on the porch, arms crossed, tapping his foot? No, he runs to him. Does he hand his son work clothes and make him start at the bottom rung? No, he covers him in fine dress. Does he show him where the refrigerator is? No, he throws him a feast. All the boy wanted was a chance to pay back his debt, to earn his father’s respect again and perhaps a place in the business. His dad gave him back everything and more.

And here we come with our battered, feeble, tattered faith. It isn’t much to look at. But the Father receives it warmly and in exchange gives us the fullness of the riches of the eternal Christ. We are no more secure in Christ in a strong faith than a small faith, so long as that small faith is true faith. Into our empty hand is placed the infinite blessings of our sovereign Savior.

When you have Christ, you have everything. You have him and therefore all: the eternal riches of his glory. So we receive not just that hell insurance and ticket to heaven, but union with Christ by which we are seated with him in the heavenly places and hidden with him in God forever. We receive the adoption as sons and daughters. We receive the indwelling Spirit. We are totally justified. We are cleansed, declared holy, set apart, and we receive in addition the promise of the fruit of the Spirit and more holiness to come. We receive the promise of the blessed hope, the glorification we will share with Christ, and the resurrection of the body to everlasting bliss in the new heavens and new earth.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

So let’s pay attention to what we hear in the gospel If we lend God our ears, he will fill our eyes with the transforming vision of his glorious Son. When he fills our eyes with that vision, he fills our hearts. When he fills our hearts, he fills our souls, till we are overflowing in praise and love and moving out on mission to shine the light of Christ far and wide, that the knowledge of his glory might cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.

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